War on Christmas
For the past several years I’ve heard the term ‘war on Christmas’ tossed around. Shoppers are offended that store clerks wish them a “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. People are up in arms about keeping “Christ in Christmas” while wracking up the credit card debt to buy numerous presents. I’ve written about the culture wars in our society before, and the “war on Christmas” is yet another battle within this nasty culture war. But guess what?
I don’t really understand the up in arms about this so called ‘war on Christmas’. Christmas happened, no one can take its truth away from us.
And the Christmas we celebrate in the United States really isn’t a reflection of the way Jesus probably would want his birthday celebrated. We are stressed during the holidays. We spend too much money buying way too many obligatory gifts for too many people. We run from place to place, push through crowds of people and are generally in such a rush that we can miss out on the truly important things in life. And in the midst of the chaos, we get mad at the over worked, underpaid store clerk who doesn’t wish us a Merry Christmas. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want the word Christmas to be associated with the chaos in the malls and the billions of dollars spent on excess and materialism. As a Christian I don’t want to force my holiday on the Jews, Muslims and Hindus that live in the United States. They don’t force their holidays on me, so I shouldn’t force it on them. This pettiness is not what Christmas is all about.
But before you call me a scrooge and roll your eyes at me, let me tell you what I think Christmas is really about.
Christmas is about the birth of a little baby who grew up to save us all. He lived a life in poverty and healed the sick. He raised the poor up and was a rebel against the ruling authorities of the day. He made statements that flew in the face of human nature and gave his life for us. He gave the ultimate gift. Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus, who loved the outcasts and the sinners. Christmas is about spending time with the people we love. It’s when we take the blinders off and look around at the people who are hurting in our world. It’s about giving gifts that give back- things that truly matter. It’s about serving the poor and being sensitive to the needs of the brokenhearted.
I hope we can focus on the eternal things of Christmas. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t buy gifts for the ones we love (Gift giving is my love language so I spend plenty of time planning those perfect gifts for family). I am saying that the gifts, the shopping, the spending shouldn’t be our focus. I’m trying to personally take time over these next couple days to sit and be still before God, thinking about that beautiful holy night thousands of years ago. I’m going to read the scriptures and think about Jesus. I’m going to look for more opportunities to serve others. I’m going to reach out to friends who are hurting to make sure they know that I care. These are things we should be doing all the time, but the holiday season is a great time to start this habit.
I’m certainly not perfect at all of this, but I’m trying. My heart has been heavy for the hurting this season and my mutiny against excess has me frequently thinking about people who are in need. Much of this season has flown by, but there are still a few days left to turn this holiday season around to where it focuses on the things that truly matter.
What are you doing to keep the focus on the truth of Christmas this holiday season?